Is there anything so laughably hypocritical as Fox News’ sudden concern that Obama flip-flopped on the issue of gay marriage? Now that Mitt Romney – a flip-flopper extraordinaire if ever there was one – is the presumptive Republican nominee, it’s hard to find any criticism of him for flip-flopping on Fox News. But with President Obama it’s a different story. Not only is Fox blasting his support for same-sex marriage as a flip-flop, but using it as a meme for the network’s framing of the event.
In fact, Obama has never been strongly against gay marriage. As ABC News’ Rick Klein noted:
Previously, Obama has moved in the direction of supporting same-sex marriage but has consistently stopped short of outright backing it. Instead, he’s voiced support for civil unions for gay and lesbian couples that provide the rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples, though not defined as “marriage.” At the same time, the president has opposed efforts to ban gay marriage at the state level, saying that he did not favor attempts to strip rights away from gay and lesbian couples.
… As president in 2010, Obama told ABC’s Jake Tapper that his feelings about gay marriage were “constantly evolving. I struggle with this.” A year later, the president told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “I’m still working on it.”
“I probably won’t make news right now, George,” Obama said in October 2011. “But I think that there’s no doubt that as I see friends, families, children of gay couples who are thriving, you know, that has an impact on how I think about these issues.”
Couple that with Obama’s repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and his decision not to legally defend the Defense of Marriage Act, this is hardly a huge change in position. Especially in comparison to Mitt Romney’s flip-flops.
As Priscilla reported yesterday, Fox Nation settled on attacking Obama as a flip-flopper on same-sex marriage after it discarded its original accusation that he had also declared war on marriage.
The same charge was leveled by Fox News’ Hypocrite-in-Chief Sean Hannity. He was assisted in that attack by Michelle Malkin. For a bit of balance, liberal Juan Williams was on hand – to fight two on one. But that wasn’t good enough odds for “fair and balanced” Fox. They put a photo of Obama on the screen next to large letters saying, FLIP-FLOPPER.
Hatriot Malkin looked as if she relished the opportunity to attack her president. She even cracked a smile as Hannity gave her a lead-in for doing so. “I really feel sorry for Juan and for anyone on the left and in the Democrat Party who has to take this Herculean, intellectually dishonest leap to defend the President’s positions – multiple – on this issue and so many others,” she sneered. She sounded breathlessly ecstatic as she continued in a monologue of mockery and derision: “What is Barack Obama? To me, he is like a lava lamp, and there’s all these globs of shapeless, spineless, feckless policies that all sort of heat up and move around when the campaign season heats up.”
Hannity laughed heartily at her metaphor.
Williams did a good job of explaining why there’s “no problem understanding Barack Obama’s position.” But Williams failed to note the ridiculous flip-flopping on the subject of flip-flopping going on right under his nose. He’s a Fox News contributor so I suppose it would have been too much to challenge Hannity to defend Romney's flips and flops.
But what was Rick Klein’s excuse? Following the Hannity show, Klein visited On The Record to answer host Greta Van Susteren’s question – which was also the top story – “So did the president flip-flop, as his critics say, or did he evolve, as he claims? And how much of this is actually political dynamite?”
Klein didn't say Obama had flip-flopped but either deliberately or inadvertently helped out the meme by painting Obama as somewhat spineless. Klein said Obama had been “evolving” for “a long time” and had finally been “pushed into this position by his party, by reality, by his own vice president.”
“How do we know if it’s quote, strong leadership now, or if it’s simply just plain politics because he’s getting his back pushed against the wall. I mean, everyone’s been hammering him… to fish or cut bait on this,” Van Susteren “asked.”
“We’ll know if he wins the election or not,” Klein joked. He went on to note that Romney had not “really hit the flip-flop issue” and added, “You don’t get a sense that the Romney team wants to make an enormous issue out of gay marriage this fall.”
But that really wasn’t what Van Susteren was getting at. And Klein, who’s the Senior Washington Editor at ABC should have known that. I was so irked at his failure to note Fox’s blatant, hypocritical agenda that I tweeted him twice:
Why is @RickKlein treating Fox’s “question” about Obama flip-flopping on gay marriage as a serious question given FNC’s Romney cheerleading?
.@RickKlein for someone who’s Sr Washington Ed at ABC, it’s astounding that you never notice or report on Fox propaganda tactics.
@NewsHoundEllen he changed positions on gay marriage. do you disagree?
@RickKlein Agree but don’t you find Fox’s concern for flip-flopping suspiciously selective?
I never got a response.
I thought the same thing! I keep wondering how Morris is related to Roger Ailes or what dirt he’s got on him. It’s pretty clear all the hosts think he’s a crackpot.
Does Ailes just feel sorry for him? In any event, it was very heartening to hear Morris say Romney would win in a landslide.
OTOH with O’Reilly, he let something out that was really nasty during his discussion with Dennis Miller. While telling Miller he thought Jon Lovitz was being disrespectful to the office of the President, he also admitted that he despises what he calls “the far left”. He likes what he calls “liberals” but anyone farther to the left, he despises. How does this line up with him having Cornell West and Tavis Smiley on?
Back to Obama: There’s one basic consistency to his positions that the right wing haters have somehow forgotten. He has consistently stood up for the rights of the groups the right wing would curtail. He had previously stood up for women’s rights to birth control and reproductive choice, where the right wing wanted to get that out of the public health idea (meaning put it back in the closet and have it only available to people wealthy or desperate enough to be able to get it). He had stood up for the rights of working class and rural Americans to vote, where the right wingers would demand more identification as a way of blocking those voters from pulling the lever. He had stood up for the rights of immigrants to not live in fear that every policeman could pull them over to ask for “their papers” in Arizona and elsewhere, while the right wingers wanted to set a precedent of chasing immigrants out of their states through intimidation and harassment.
And in this case, he stood up for the rights of Americans of whatever partnership to be able to have the same family laws apply to them. The point of marriage and civil unions isn’t just to allow someone to have a ceremony, although that’s a part. It’s that the partners have legal standing in the community as such. The right wingers would prefer that those couples have no legal standing. There really isn’t any more to the argument than that.
Obama has long been supportive of gay rights (DOMA, DODT, etc.) I think there’s a big difference between changing his position on this one part of a cluster of legal issues around this subject and the kinds of complete flip-flops that Romney has made.
It’s a principled position – and he qualified it to say that he wouldn’t push it over the wishes of individual states, given that this is an idea that will eventually get there on its own. There are many ideas like this that have taken root over time – Interracial dating and marriage, acknowledgement of people other than white males in the workplace, etc.
It’s interesting that the right wing talking point is to say that President Obama is just trying to get money from wealthy donors. Obama is not in dire need of a new funding source. Even today, he’s coming to Los Angeles to pick up another set of contributions. Taking this position could actually cost him contributions and could cost him a couple of swing states, if some people decide that it’s a deal breaker for them. I agree that he made his decision at this time for political reasons, but you could also say the same for when President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Had there been a Fox News then, what might they have said? “Lincoln Flip Flops on Slaves’ Rights”?
And for the Michelle Malkin equivalency cry, I would answer that this isn’t the same thing as the attacks on women’s rights, undocumented aliens or working class voters. The issue about abortion and birth control is something that is the law of the land per the Supreme Court, and the Obama Administration has properly spoken out and taken action against right wing attempts to undermine it. The issue on local states trying to drive immigrants away is another matter where it’s a national matter of borders that some right wingers are trying to turn into a local issue so they can score a cheap point. And the Voter ID issue is just another right wing attempt to limit working class votes in areas where it’s obvious that they will vote a 2nd term for Obama.
All talking points aside, the reaction here is another sign of how desperate the right wing is becoming over this election. And it’s another signal to the GOP in Congress to refuse to work with the Dems on anything – which is overwhelmingingly what the GOP has been doing since Obama was sworn in. (I’ve particularly enjoyed the GOP talking point that “He wouldn’t work with us and wouldn’t use our input.” That’s ridiculous. The “input” was a series of stalling and obstructing tactics intended to stop the Dems from getting anything through the houses. The “input” was designed to bog everything down in endless committee discussions and keep anything from coming up for a vote. Had they completely succeeded, the campaign now would be to say that “Obama hasn’t gotten anything passed by Congress. He hasn’t done anything.” Instead, since they failed in a few of their attempts, they’re saying that what he did wasn’t working. Kind of a sour grapes answer.
Tod – It has NOTHING to do with “your guy” or “my guy”. It’s about the issue of same-sex marriage.
And newzhound, exactly what are you smoking? Or what pills are you taking? FoxNoise give Obama credit for anything? You’ve got to be kidding. They couldn’t even credit him with taking down bin Laden (at least, not unless Dubya and Cheney got credit for “laying the groundwork” or unless Seal Team Six got the lion’s share of the credit for the actual kill and taking all the real risk; IF those conditions were met, then they GRUDGINGLY gave Obama credit). You might have noticed the FoxNoise crew haven’t exactly credited Obama for the recent drop in gas prices (although it was entirely Obama’s fault for the rise in prices) and you might have also noticed that, despite recent employment gains, the FoxNoise crew haven’t given credit to Obama for that.
Of course, a position questionnaire from the late 90s (supposedly filled out by Obama, but, when the paper was made public during the 2008 campaign, Obama denied filling it out, saying that a campaign worker had filled it out for him—and supposedly Obama merely signed it without reading it over) stated Obama’s FULL support for same-sex marriage.
I’ll give Obama only as much credit as he’s due but I’m not going to make it seem as though he’s doing the LGBTQ community any great favors with this decision. DNC leaders had already put the issue out there months ago to make marriage equality a formal part of the Democratic platform, and the VP made his support known a week ago (one report I read stated that was the impetus for Obama’s “sudden” decision; according to the report, Obama was going to put off this decision for a “while longer”). And, he wasn’t exactly willing to put himself on the line in 2008 when asked by Prop 8 opponents to publicly endorse the “No on 8” campaign; Obama said it wouldn’t be proper for him to wade into a state issue as a Presidential candidate (funny how GOP candidates don’t have that problem; Dubya—okay, he was the sitting President, but he was in the middle of a campaign—certainly used the Massachusetts court decision on same-sex marriage to press for a Constitutional Amendment banning marriage equality).
Did Obama make the right decision here? Yes. But I’m not going to pretend that he DIDN’T flip-flop on the issue. Anyone who does so is willfully ignoring his history on the issue.
As for the really unpleasant shoutfest at Juan Williams, it was hard to hear him over the harsh vitriol being thrown around by Malkin. If Morris is desperate with the election situation, Malkin is downright furious. And it got to the point where I fast forwarded to the end of the discussion.
Van Susteren at least tried to present a calmer face on the nonsense but this was belied by one of her next segments – with an extreme hardline GOP congressman who thinks it’s okay to cut DOJ funding as a way to keep the Darrell Issa grandstanding in the papers during an election year. Van Susteren never asked the congressman what the real reason is behind all the attacks.
Yeah… it’s a real challenge to see who the dick was in that equation.